A Homemade Valentine: Cast Iron Skillet Peanut Brittle

peanut brittle done

I never really cared much for peanut brittle — that is, until an older gentleman introduced me to a recipe handed down to him long ago.  He said he enjoyed making it at deer camp each year, and brought a batch to share at our workplace too.  It was amazing!  Crispy and delicious, it melts in your mouth, with nothing sticking to your teeth.  Only 5 ingredients: peanuts, sugar, corn syrup, salt, and baking soda.  The real secret though, according to him, is using a cast iron skillet and a wooden spoon.

He gave me the recipe, and for the last thirty years (until I, too, have become an older man) I’ve been producing quite a few batches each Christmas season. This would also make a wonderful handmade Valentine’s Day gift. It’s not difficult, takes no “stretching” of the brittle, and takes less than 15 minutes from start to finish.

Ingredients/tools for each batch:
1 C. white sugar
1 C. karo syrup
1-½ C. raw peanuts  (Must be RAW peanuts — available in bulk food stores)
¾ tsp. salt
1-½ tsp. baking soda
10” cast iron skillet
Wooden spoon
Hot pad for skillet handle
Greased cookie sheet or pizza pan
Scrubber for skillet

Have your ingredients and tools set and ready - the process moves quickly once you start!

Have your ingredients and tools set and ready – the process moves quickly once you start!

IMPORTANT – Before you start:
— Measure out the soda, and keep it on standby.
— Have a greased cookie sheet or pizza pan nearby on a hot pad.
— Make sure an empty kitchen sink is available or you will have scorched brittle in your skillet.
— Don’t forget a hot pad for the skillet handle so you can grab it quickly!

Procedure:

  1. Put all ingredients except soda into the skillet and turn the stove on high (for gas) or med-high (for electric). 
  2.  Stir occasionally as the ingredients begin heating up. Stir more often as it begins boiling. boiling peanuts
  3. The brittle is nearing completion and ready for the soda when you notice these things: the color is turning amber, the peanuts begin splitting, and you can smell the roasting peanuts. (On my gas stove, it takes exactly twelve minutes.)

    Almost ready to add the soda.

    Almost ready to add the soda.

  4. Turn off the heat, add the soda, and stir rapidly, but not for long.  The brittle will foam up nicely.  

    Soda added and stirred in (all foamy).

    Soda added and stirred in (all foamy).

  5. Immediately, before it scorches, dump it onto the cookie sheet and let it spread out and settle down on its own.

    Poured out onto greased cookie sheet.

    Poured out onto greased cookie sheet.

  6. Put the skillet in the sink and fill it with hot water.  The heat from the skillet and the hot water will very rapidly melt off the remaining brittle.  Use a scrubber to easily finish cleaning it up, and you are ready for the next batch.

    Skillet in sink, adding hot water. The remnants of candy melt off almost immediately. Very little scrubbing needed.

    Skillet in sink, adding hot water. The remnants of candy melt off almost immediately. Very little scrubbing needed.

  7. Let the brittle cool.  Turn the whole “cake” upside down on the cookie sheet, and crack it with the handle of a butter knife.peanut brittle done
  8. Enjoy sharing with your Valentine.